Focus and Restraint – Carlton Apartment by Tom Eckersley Architects
Carlton, VIC, Australia
Reinvigorating the tired bones of an untouched 1990s apartment, Carlton Apartment sees a re-engagement with context and realignment with purpose. Tom Eckersley Architects combines a focused restraint with a contemporary minimalism to complete a challenging build during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overlooking parklands in Melbourne’s inner north, Carlton Apartment embraces its locale and through careful realignment takes better advantage of this position adjacent to nature. Originally built in the 1990s, the existing two-bedroom apartment was inherited largely untouched and was in dire need of refurbishment. Conceived as a reflective space that was naturally filled with light and a sense of calm, the approach was to re-engage the apartment and its existing structural elements with a newfound purpose. Throughout, custom joinery offers functionality, concealing ample storage and amenity. Working within the project’s constraints, Tom Eckersley Architects shows restraint and refinement through attention to detail.
Challenges included time constraints and the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant that a cohesive cross-disciplinary approach was needed. Built by Demardi, with joinery by Inner West Joinery, the team’s commitment to high quality detailing is evident throughout and expresses a matched dedication to quality and a time-enduring series of spaces. At 90sqm, the apartment sought to optimise its available floor space and inject a clearer sense of purpose to the previously dark and enclosed interior. Through a minimalist lens, a simple and clear approach sees a retrained materials palette encase spaces and provide a series of robust surfaces.
Previously, the two-bedroom apartment was utilised as a one bedroom plus study. However, with clever integration and custom designed joinery, a study zone was incorporated into a previously unused circulation space which allowed the larger rooms to return to their original purpose. Although moderate in size, the inability to move or alter the existing structural elements and bounding walls transferred over as a challenge to work within these immovable elements. By utilising a light grey, muted timber and mirror throughout, incoming light was able to be reflected back within the space and encourage a sense of openness. White stone and light grey tiles also add to the overall brightness of the spaces and increase their perceived size.
Carlton Apartment uses strategic lighting and openings to allow for better connection internally, and between the inside and outside worlds, better addressing its views of adjacent Carlton Gardens. Tom Eckersley Architects has transformed a previously dark and uninviting apartment, imbuing lightness, subtlety and calm.